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Congregational vitality

Returning to discipleship

by Sharon Kandel | Mission Crossroads

The Rev. James Gatdet Tang, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus-West Gambella Bethel Synod president (Contributed photo)

West Gambella Bethel Synod, found in the Gambella region of Western Ethiopia, is a member of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. It was founded in 1962 as a result of the gospel preaching of the missionaries from the PC(USA) after Dr. Thomas Lambie and his teammates erected the first Nuer-Christian church in Nasir in present day South Sudan.

This church (synod) has 156 congregations with 84 pastors who are nurturing the believers. With that many congregations, and it being a growing church, there have been challenges on effective engagement of members, and congregations as a whole, in discipleship ministry and stewardship training that would enable the members to live according to their call as the disciples of the Lord.

One thing that we Christians forget and do not look at is a living that reflects Christ’s likeness. We are called to bear witness as disciples but at the same time, we are expected to live an exemplary life that reflects our call as the followers of the Lord Jesus. We normally look at 1 Corinthians 11:1 to find the pattern of life that Christ demands of us. This is why we, at West Gambella Bethel Synod, have taken the initiative to bring back our members to a biblical understanding of discipleship.

It has been difficult supporting this initiative as the majority of the membership is economically poor and had not been given training that whatever they have is a gift to share with others. These gifts can be food, music, leadership, funds or other things. They are being encouraged to use God-given resources wisely in God’s purpose to sustain the ministry of the living God.

It has been a priority of this synod to strengthen and empower the knowledge of the congregations’ leaders to understand the importance of supporting the church through giving and doing effective discipleship ministry. We have already begun seeing the fruits of trainings we have provided by increased giving and a better understanding of Scripture. There is hope for the members of this synod to continue to grow in the knowledge of Scripture and to be more involved in the church using the gifts God has given them.

I would take this opportunity to encourage congregational leaders to see the importance of engagement in discipleship and using God-given resources to do the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ before He returns.

The article first appeared in Mission Crossroads. Find it and other articles here.

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